Stone Age Theology

Why aren’t Christian women speaking out about the contraception debate?  Apparently it isn’t much of a debate because the men seem to be dominating the airwaves, while Christian women seem oddly silent.

Where are all the women???? I’m growing hoarse screaming at my television, radio, newspaper and computer screen every time I hear a panel of men or a male politician, a male radio host or some other male…pastor preaching about the sins of contraception or making ignorant, misinformed claims that women can’t get pregnant during rape or incest, or some other shouldn’t have been said, much less repeated ignorant statement about contraception, health, sex etc…

Where are these men’s wives, sisters, daughters, mothers, grandmothers, doctors etc…?  And why aren’t they hitting them in back of the head or politely informing them to shut up???????  Please dear let me help you with those boards in your eyes (Matthew 7:3).

And why isn’t anyone asking each and every one of them, “So you and every sexual partner you’ve ever had has never ever used any type of contraception ever?”

And every male politician is covered by a plan that provides contraception and covers them or a family member if they become pregnant regardless of marital status. A la carte insurance is rarely affordable for anyone who needs it. But that is another post for another blogger.

Am I the only Christian woman at risk of losing my gym membership or job because I’m screaming back at the insanity?

Since I’ve been forced to either hear all these stupid comments or hide in a cave, I feel compelled to throw a bunch of my own stupid observations.  I have hundreds of FB friends, most who are Christian, many ordained ministers and almost all who have been sexually active (i.e. married) at some point in their lives, however none have a child for every nine months they were married. SINNERS!!!!

Why do so many LOUD Christians take bits of scripture, sculpt it into stones and begin throwing it around as gospel, I mean – law? Evangelizing isn’t supposed to be some wicked game of dodge ball.

Rocks hurt! I do not understand how anyone can pretend writing the words ‘good news’ on the side of a rock is going to soften its blow.  How do these statements reflect our love for God or our neighbor?

And why should Christians who value their religious freedom feel entitled to force their religious beliefs on anyone else? Lazy evangelism!

I don’t recall Jesus saying much about contraception, health insurance or the consequences of rape but Jesus did say in John 8:7, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

And I don’t want to throw stones, shake my fist or scream at my fellow brothers and sisters.  But I will share my experience with the Church, contraception and healthcare.

Many years ago I had a tubal pregnancy, went to a Catholic hospital where a priest prayed with me and an awesome doctor saved my life (i.e. removed the pregnancy, repaired the tube and everything else).  The doctor prescribed hormone (contraceptive) pills to stop the ‘stuff’ that caused the pregnancy outside of my uterus.

And many years later my doctor strongly recommended and my husband strongly encouraged me to have a hysterectomy to stop a very bad bleeding problem. Perhaps it was the same bleeding problem of our sister who was healed by Jesus in Matthew 9:20-22.  Who knows?  I only know that I was also healed after I prayed with my pastor and allowed my doctor to perform the ultimate surgical contraception.

And most importantly, like our biblical sister and politicians, it didn’t cost me anything because I had healthcare. Amen!

Related Articles:

Privilege and The Pill by Rachel Held Evans

Pregnancy Coverage for Men? by Michael Hiltzik

Birth Control vs Hysterectomy in Catholic Hospitals by Hormones Matter

Always Bee…utiful

This post has been refreshed:

When Philip was 9 years old he gave me the extremely sturdy, can’t believe it hasn’t fallen off the wall “My Mom is bee…utiful” plaque.

I was surprised!

I imagined Philip must have been the very last child to enter the school store.  The shelves completely bare – not even one silk rose, box of chocolates or other regular “MOM” gift to buy.  He sadly watches a lucky boy buy the very last silk rose.  The only thing left is this plaque.  He reluctantly pulls his money from his pocket because he has to buy something – I’m his mom!

There are a few flaws in my assumption. Philip is not an impulse buyer.  He is very conscientious, particularly in choosing gifts.  He will not settle. He spends hours, days, weeks etc…making choices. He will not be rushed.

Yet I’m still shocked!

Despite my ugly attitude, the plaque became cherished because it was a trying time.

Philip and I ran away from his abusive father when Philip was only three years old.  While I was safer, Philip visited his scary Dad. Philip was scared, angry and appropriately acting out.

I struggled with making the “right” decisions, wanting him safe without breaking his bond with his father.  I know his Dad broke that bond, not me, but nothing felt right.

Have you ever heard the saying, “Pretty is, as pretty does”?

Beauty is an action, a reflection of Christ’s love and sacrifice.  It reminds me of Jochebed, Moses’ mother.  The sacrifice she made to keep Moses alive by putting him in a basket, and her joy when Pharaoh’s daughter called her to nurse her own son.

Bee..utiful!

Like Jochebed, I protected my son.  The court and I severed his ties with his Dad. Philip was finally safe. I think the plaque says escaping domestic violence is Bee-utiful! 

Do you find it annoying when a beautiful women argues with you when you compliment them? I do.

Yet I rarely think of myself as attractive. My daughter asks,  “Why don’t  you think you’re beautiful?”  Busted! And speechless.

How did she become so smart?  It really hurts to be hit with your own stick.

Matthew 7:3

I want my daughter to be confident. I want her to know she is beautiful! How can that happen if I don’t model it?

Note, I totally disregarded the possibility that Philip was referring to physical beauty.

Many years ago a Lutheran Women Today  bible study encouraged women to share complements.

1 Thessalonians 5:11, “encourage one another and build each other up…”

It felt strange going around the room complementing each other. I sounded awkward and goofy but the thoughts were true.  I just wasn’t comfortable expressing them.  Now, I share every positive thought I have with my bee-utiful sisters of Christ. They flow naturally.  I can’t even imagine holding them back. It would be like withholding a gift.

Bible study taught me to stop arguing with people complimenting me.

Believe me – I’ve improved! I might look stupid when my mouth falls open but I try to close it before I say something stupid or start to disagree.  I became really good at changing the subject, telling a joke or turning the tables, but I’m still working on whittling down this gigantic board in my eye.  I’m learning to say  “Thank you.”

I’m still avoiding.  Autumn wants me to acknowledge I’m beautiful, my son gave me a physical reminder, my husband says I’m beautiful.

This blog searches for the greatest truth – love. I matter to God.  So why is this so hard? It’s not like I haven’t done this before.

When I was a teen, I said I had long eyelashes.  The Bible leader corrected, saying my lashes look long under my bushy eyebrows. Her comment is still funny and didn’t scar me for life but I’m still stalling.

Looking in the mirror, I have pretty bluish-green eyes that usually carry a laugh or dance with joy. My eyebrows are rarely bushy. I love my hair.

I think women who have the courage to leave abusive relationships are brave, therefore I’m brave.  And I think all courageous  women are incredibly beautiful.  So OK Autumn and Philip – I’m bee-utiful!  Thank you for spurring me on.

Thank you Philip for my plaque. I love it and I love you for giving it to me.

Thank you Lord for chopping away at that board. Thank you for creating me ~ bee..utiful!

Share Sisters of Christ:  Share your stories of bee-utiful women you admire. And SHOUT (type) out “I am bee..utiful!”

New Clothes by Christ

New DressI love jumping into the Bible. It is so much more fun than being a biblical spectator silently identifying the bad guy, rolling my eyes at the stupid guys and weeping over the least, lost and left out. So let’s take a ride back in time and throw ourselves into the Old Testament book of Zechariah.

Zechariah 3 provides beautiful imagery of Christ in his Old Testament visions and prophesies. Since Zechariah is already a bystander, and since some of my followers are clergy and all are “reformed” sinners, let’s put ourselves in the sandals of Joshua, the high priest.

Throughout the Bible, God, particularly Jesus, seems really hard on priests. Christ always seems to talk bad about the clergy, identifying their mistakes and chastising them for keeping the rules but missing the grace. What often gets lost in the translation or sermon is – love. We hear the rebuke, feel the sting and hope we never experience the wrath of God.

Sad GirlTruth be told, if you’re reading this blog, as a sister of Christ, you’ve already been reformed into the priesthood of Christ. You may reject the collar but despite our baptism, we all mess up, getting those beautiful white linens washed clean during baptism dirty! Yuck!

Just like Joshua, we are impure priests. And as a congregation, we are often harder on the clergy, and ourselves, expecting a perfect, sinless trail from our baptism forward.

Sometimes I feel like I’ve mess up so bad I can’t imagine how I’ll ever find my way back. And wonder why would God even want me back. I know better! But I still screwed up.

So how are we made clean again, if we have but one baptism? I think God tells us through Zechariah’s vision, let’s begin –

The Angel showed Zecharia the following vision:

I, the high priest was standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan was standing at his right side to accuse me.

The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebukes you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebukes you! Is not this woman a burning stick snatched from the fire?”

Now I was dressed in filthy clothes as I stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, “Take off her filthy clothes.”

(Not fond of being stripped naked in front of a crowd but I’ll go for it, for scripture sake)

Then the LORD said to me, “See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put fine garments on you.”

Then Zechariah said, “Put a clean turban on her head.” So they put a clean turban on my head (gotta love a new hat – Thank you Zechariah!) and clothed me, while the angel of the LORD stood by.

The angel of the LORD gave this charge to me: “This is what the LORD Almighty says: “‘…Listen, High Priest KAREN (insert your name) … I am going to bring my servant (Jesus) and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. (The Cross)

“‘In that day each of you will invite your neighbor to sit under your vine and fig tree,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”

Want to share a fig? Fig tree

Burnt Bridges

BREATHE deep sisters

Fill your lungs with thick, dark smoke

Enjoy the smell of fire

Bask in the warmth of the flames

 

You’re safe! 

 

Release the tension in your shoulders

Let the knots in your belly unravel

Let the TEARS flow

 

You’re safe!

 

The bridge is BURNING

Fear consumed

Pain behind

 

You’re safe!

 

Look around

Today is a new beginning

Full of HOPE

 

You’re safe!

 

You brought your heart

Protected

Full of LOVE

DANCE sister

 

You’re safe! AMEN!

 

Do not be afraid! Starting Over!

Shake off your dust;  rise up, sit enthroned, Jerusalem. Free yourself from the chains on your neck,  Daughter Zion, now a captive. Isaiah 52:2
The Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this [my daughter] a burning stick snatched from the fire?” Zechariah 3:2
If people do not welcome you, leave their town and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” Luke 9:5

Crying in the New Year

BalloonsWe made it through Christmas.  Our expectant waiting is over.  The Savior is born. The New Year has begun, our resolutions made, thoughtfully planned, diligently executed. Hopefully, only a few foolish promises have been broken before the first month has barely begun.

The clock started and the question never seems to be whether we’ll keep our resolution but for how long.

Do resolutions set us up for failure?

I haven’t been able to find a biblical context for making them and the only resolution I’ve kept is the resolution to stop making resolutions!  I honestly can’t recall the last time I made a resolution.

I can’t save myself. My self-esteem doesn’t need any more blows! So why set myself up for failure? Isn’t that why I need a savior?

All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. Romans 3:23-24 (NIV)

This sinful fallen world provides enough disappointment and tears without setting such low expectations.

So many sisters and brothers suffer from depression during the holidays, some from the loss of loved ones, illness or hardship.  Others wrestle with mental illness or swarms of mind altering relatives or good intentioned “church” people, binding up the New Year, swinging it about our heads and bringing it crashing down with a loud THUD! The only ringing may be in our ears from the blow.

I’m not against setting goals or making daily reflections.  There are lots of resolutions I’ve admired. Aspilled winend I’ve made lots of life changes, just not as New Years’ resolutions.

I’m OKAY!  I had a great New Year! No one spoiled my celebration or spit in my champagne.

But not everyone parties in the New Year.  While I didn’t cry in this New Year, I have others.

Several of my friends have lost loved ones. And quite frankly this hasn’t been the most joyous year for our family.  Our daughter was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease this year; and I’m writing this post as she sleeps in the chair next to me receiving her 2nd Remicade infusion. I pray it works.  I pray it is the miracle we’ve hoped for.

Following our savior to the cross (Easter) can be very painful, difficult, exhausting and hard work.  So if you’re feeling a bit over or under whelmed, you are not alone.

Let’s take a moment to meet our holy family (Mary, Joseph and Jesus) in Matthew 2.  After the magi visit them, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him to take Mary and Jesus to Egypt to keep him alive. I guess it’s the way God talks to guys named Joe.

Joseph obeys and the family goes to Egypt to stay, fulfilling what the Lord said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”(Hosea 11:1)

While we rejoice that our savior, Jesus is saved, let us recall that not all rejoiced. Herod killed all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he learned the savior was born in Bethlehem.  This fulfilled what was said through the prophet Jeremiah (31:15):

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

Scripture doesn’t say, Rachel rejoiced because her child was sacrificed, was thankful for the time she had with her child or was comforted by her other children. She grieved and was upset.  She refused to be consoled and God recorded her tears in scripture with the promise of the empty tomb. Why? Because God never breaks resolutions!  Amen!

Jesus fishLord, thank you for hearing your daughters’ tears.  When we weep, you comfort. Even when we refuse, you remain, keeping count of our tears. Thank you for sending your son, as a sacrifice for our tears. Amen.

Anna the Prophet

The bible has many female prophets who speak for God in the old and new testament. Anna, the prophetess joins us in Luke 2 when Mary and Joseph take their new forty day old circumcised newborn named Jesus (the name given by the angel before he was conceived) to the temple in Jerusalem for purification and to offer him to God as commanded in God’s Law.  They bring a holy offering, a pair of doves or two young pigeons as prescribed in God’s Law.  The offering of birds instead of a lamb notes their poverty. Doves

Although Jesus is God, his parents still follow the rules and make their offering.  God doesn’t give himself a free pass as many in authority do.

Anna the prophetess was a very old woman, married only seven years and a widow for eighty-four. She never left the Temple area, worshiping night and day with her fastings and prayers.

Anna seems content to be a widow and subject to the generosity of the Temple community. This is interesting since scriptures usually encourage us to pity widows, orphans and spinster dependents. Anna’s implied joy is an inspiration making me wonder about the rest of her story.  Was she a victim of violence?  Abused as a child?  Is her life in the temple much easier and blessed than her childhood and years of marriage?

Luke describes her as a prophet.  Anna was given the honor of speaking for God which gave her respect and authority despite her gender. She had a close personal relationship with GOD.

Anna showed up at the temple, broke into an anthem of praise to God, and talked about the child to all who were waiting expectantly for the freeing of Jerusalem.  Anna was a voice of hope, pointing to the gift of Christmas – Jesus!

Thank you Lord for coming to us, following the rules and calling women like Anna to be your voice in the darkness.  Bring us your peace. Amen

Cheaster Parade

Christmas Cross

Christmas Cross
by Karen P. Simpson

My favorite part of Christmas is the “Cheasters” parade.

My daughter just screamed, “MOM!  How rude! Don’t be offensive!” This probably will be my most unpopular post but I’ve got to get it out there. It’s been mucking up my head for days.  So stick with me if you dare.

Otherwise, I’m glad WordPress and Facebook don’t have “hate” buttons.

Most “regulars” think about Cheasters!  Admit it!  I’ve been going to church since before I was born and Cheaster grumbling is a favorite pastime. Some absolutely hate Cheasters and insist upon Cheaster free services during really obscure times, while others say Cheasters are necessary evil to pay the bills to do whatever we want during the rest of the year without them.

Thank you grandmom for making everyone go to church and teaching them to put something in the offering.

I’m newly proud to admit, I really like Cheasters!  Those Christmas/Easter Christians that arrive every, you guessed it, Christmas Easter, full of wonder and excitement (and noise…).  I love snuggling up to them twice a every year, catching their wave of excitement, admiring them and praying (talking) to God to “get it!” I want to be part of the party that celebrates the Cheasters! I feel like running up and down the aisles like I just won the Super Bowl.  I get that excited! I even think it is great when they make their own parking spots, drive in the wrong way or do whatever else to shine a big light on their awkward presence.

I know I’m not alone.  A few other “regulars” secretly like Cheasters. They appreciate a packed church, are grateful their family joined them for service, pray we catch a few.  But I admit I go a bit overboard.

Yes! Unfortunately, every year I over do it. I know I’ve over done it as soon as one suddenly asks an usher or a church/family member, “Who is this woman?”

OOPS!  Of course I get a free pass because someone explains I’m the pastor’s wife so I get the familiar weird aunt stare meant to keep my behavior in check while giving me permission to stay. I know I’m strange.  I’m even doing a little jig while I write this- completely off my rocker.  Church members reading this blog-protect your family because here I come.

My excitement dates back to my childhood. I’ve been snuggling up to Cheasters all my life, looking for that new family to take me home and treat me nice.  My mother was so crazy during the holidays, I was beaten up, tired and desperate to find sanctuary  But I’ve been safe for years.  I have a new church family.  I don’t need to embrace these intruders. Or are Cheasters a really important part of the Christmas story?

The Christmas story is strange!  Have you ever wondered why the angel Gabriel didn’t visit Mary’s parents or her rabbi?  Sure a nameless angel visits Joe (Mary’s hubby-to-be) in a dream but how about all the other important churchy,  synagogue, watering hole folks to protect this girls’ reputation? Sure thousands of years later we consider her blessed but it seems without the Holy Spirit working magic she was probably considered loose (just to be polite).  Which maybe why no one bothers to save space in their hotel room for their VERY pregnant soon to burst forth life cousin, niece, neighbor etc… it is so much more polite to talk about someone if they aren’t there.

And then come the Cheasters! A Cheaster gives them a stable and a manger to lay God’s newborn child.  Does God run to the church (synogague) to announce the birth of His son? Nope!  He sends his messengers (angels) to the lowliest Cheasters of all – stinky shepherds!  You can imagine the racket they made coming through town with all those sheep in the middle of the night.  You think they left their sheep unattended? Imagine being awaken by cranky sheep being herded through town in the middle of the night.  Don’t blame the sheep, the shepherds (grandma) made them come.

You can roll over in your bed, go back to sleep and wait for the season to pass but I’m getting out of my bed to go hug a Cheaster!

By the way I married a Cheaster and God gave him a noisy flock to herd.  Watch out! I LOVE Christmas! Join me for the Cheaster parade!

Sorry, just one more, “Have you hug a Cheaster today!”  Maybe I’ll get buttons made!